05/07/17 — Running for a cure

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Running for a cure

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on May 7, 2017 1:45 AM

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Avaleah Epps, 7, and Addison Fields, 7, play on one of the inflatables Saturday during the annual Cures for the Colors at held on the Campus of Wayne Community College. The event featured several walking and running events, games and activities for the kids, food and live music.

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One-year-old Thomas sits on Lee Owens as he lays down while listening to music during the annual Cures for the Colors event at Wayne Community College Saturday.

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Carolina Treat Band plays for a crowd of people during the annual Cures for the Colors event Saturday afternoon.

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People enjoy the weather while eating and visiting during Cures for the Colors held Saturday.

Hundreds gathered at Wayne Community College throughout the day Saturday to participate in the seventh annual Cures for the Colors, where they raised money for Southeastern Cancer Care and honored cancer patients and survivors and remembered those who have passed on.

The event began at 8 a.m. with a timed 5K run, followed by a 100-mile team event at 9 a.m. and a one-mile run at 10 a.m. Entry into each event carried a registration fee, which provides the money for SCC to donate.

 Donna Thompson, a volunteer with the Southeastern Medical Oncology Center, which runs the event, said that the funding Cures for the Colors provides can have a major impact.

"What we can do for the patients is just, it's indescribable," she said. "Dr. Atkins has said that, sometimes research cures cancer. Sometimes it's a gas card."

Gas cards are one of the things SMOC can provide for free to cancer patients in eastern North Carolina because of funding from Cures for the Colors. The group has also helped people pay bills, buy food and offered aid in other ways.

Mrs. Thompson has worked with SMOC for 22 years, alternating between transcribing doctor visits and working in clinical trials. She is now also a beneficiary of the organization, as her husband Ronny Thompson was diagnosed with cancer in December.

Mrs. Thompson said her husband is doing well, and that SMOC has been a substantial help while the couple deals with Thompson's sickness.

While many came to Cures for the Colors to support family members fighting cancer, others came to remember those they had lost. Jerry and Brenda Parker lost their son, Randy, to cancer in June and came to their first Cure for the Colors since his death with nine other members of their family.

Parker said the family had come in previous years to support Randy, but this year carried with it a new meaning.

"We lost our son, daddy, brother, uncle," he said, gesturing to his family behind him. "This helps carry his memory on, and it helps families who are still fighting."

Around 700 people registered for the walk this year, and Mrs. Thompson was happy with the turnout.

"This is the first time we've done it all day on one day, and it's the first time we've had bands," she said as the Blake Kearney Band performed across the field. "It looks really good this year."

As the night wore on, attention turned to the balloon and lantern release ceremonies. Children whose lives had been impacted by cancer took yellow balloons, hundreds of them, and gathered around the stage to prepare. At the count of three, they released the balloons into the air, a cloud of yellow that drifted off into the setting sun.

As the sky continued to darken, attendees pulled out their lanterns. Essentially small hot air balloons, each lantern was lit at the bottom and let into the sky as they were ready.

Hundreds of lanterns, each a light representing a life impacted by cancer, floated upward. There they caught a breeze, and flew slowly together over the horizon, eventually disappearing from sight